#IlynaApartment – May 20, 2017

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Halisi lets out a quiet sob as she feels Ilyna's left hand on her shoulder. She shakes her head several times, both embarassed and overwhelmed by her failure to keep her emotions in check. "Thi-... agh, I'm sorry-..." She makes another attempt to wipe away the tears that escape down her cheeks, and runs a hand across her face, trying to recompose herself. She ends up cupping both hands over her mouth, staring ahead at the

inactive screen. "There's not a day that goes by where I don't think of those... monsters. Of what happened in Ogofau and Di Yu." She lowers her hands, shaking her head again and sniffling quietly. "I... know Di Yu wasn't your first encounter with them. I haven't wanted to ask. I haven't wanted to... drag up those memories. For any of us." Realizing she may be doing just that, she looks Ilyna's way. Her gaze darts

briefly down to the hand on her shoulder, and she reaches across with her own left hand, placing it atop Ilyna's and squeezing it.

Ilyna offers a sad smile, listening calmly to her talk without taking her hand off her shoulder. She takes a deep, quiet breath. "The most difficult thing to believe is... someone must have designed it," she says, her voice low as she keeps worrying whether Li would overhear. "I hope I never find out." She shifts a bit closer and shakes her head. "We're safe here, though," she says, "because it must be older than our

recorded history, yet it remains obscure knowledge that none of us would have believed without seeing it for ourselves."

Halisi 's gaze lingers on Ilyna's face for a few moments as the asari shifts closer, and she nods a couple of times as she speaks, lowering her left hand back to join her right in her lap. "I hope so, Ilyna. I... really do." she says, her voice a little shaky. "I've thought about that. A lot. Where it came from. You're right. Someone... made it. And now Terminus colonies are disappearing to those... Collectors. It's-... I've

seen the footage. I think-... I think it's them. What if-... what if they came here?" she glances back to Ilyna as she asks. There's an obvious fear in her hushed tone, in contrast with her usually levelheaded demeanor.

Ilyna closes her eyes at first, looking thoughtful and concerned as she thinks about what she'd do. "You shouldn't think about these things, none of us should," she says, her voice also a bit shaky. The thought of being the only thing between those things and everyone she cares about, if she failed them.... "The only thing we can do is fighting back, and helping those who can't." She takes a deep breath and opens her

mouth again before allowing a response. "We can't plan for everything that may happen," she says, "there won't be any time left for what really matters to us." Ilyna's left hand remains where it is. "If only I could follow my own advice," she adds in a mutter.

Halisi studies Ilyna's face in silence as the asari speaks, sighing with a small nod. The final, muttered addition causes a small, uneven smirk to cross her face for a moment. She leans back in her seat with another nod. "I suppose we could both do with a little less worrying. It doesn't help, does it? Being paralyzed by what-ifs helps no one, but it can be difficult to get past it." Her gaze darts back to her glass, and she

leans over to grab it, turning it over in her hand. "Suppose this is a start, isn't it?" she says, glancing over to Ilyna again as she sips her wine. "Spend so much time either working, or worrying, feeling guilty that I'm not working." She shifts a little in her seat as she sets the glass back down, turning to face Ilyna a bit more. In the process her attention is drawn to the hand still on her shoulder. She hesitates

for a moment before once again placing her own hand over the asari's and giving it a light squeeze. "Thank you." she says with a quiet sigh, which turns into a weak chuckle. "It feels... good to talk to someone. Guess I needed this more than I realized. I came here to give you a chance to vent..." she says, her hand lingering in a a slightly awkward position on top of Ilyna's.

Ilyna studies her thoughtfully as she listens, a hint of tense discomfort showing through among all the other emotions. She reaches for her own glass after Halisi stops speaking, but she doesn't drink any yet. "I understand that guilty feeling, I think, there's always more we can do for those around us," she says. The asari sighs, not entirely sure what to say for a moment. "I'm glad we could talk about this

instead," she says. "I'm so sorry for not thinking about you, what you've been through. You always seemed to have everything under control. Maybe.. I... just." She gives up and lets out a sigh, her emotions finally overtaking her as a single tear rolls down her cheek. "How could I be so selfish?" she adds in a sad mutter.

Halisi untintentionally lets out a brief, surprised chuckle, caught off-guard by Ilyna's words. "Wha-..." she shakes her head, offering a sympathetic smile. "Ilyna, that's ridiculous." She brings the asari's hand down between them, surrounding it with her own hands and giving it another squeeze as if to empathize her words. "You're the person that stands by your friends' side no matter what. That doesn't hesitate for a moment

to come charging to the rescue when your friends, and your sister, are stranded on an alien world. That took in a scared, orphaned little girl and gave her a shot at a real life. A real family. Despite not having asked for any of that responsibility. Despite not even being the same species as her." She shakes her head again, blinking back fresh moistness in her eyes. She moves her right hand to Ilyna's left shoulder,

tilting her head a little to make sure she can meet her gaze even if she were to look away. "Selfish? That's not even on the list of words I'd use to describe you. Understood?"

Ilyna looks away part-way through the praise heaped upon her, another tear following suit down her cheek. She gives the smallest nod to her question, her guilt showing no sign of waning; neither does her discomfort. "But... that doesn't mean I shouldn't have thought about you, Halisi," she says. "Especially after how many times you've helped us,... helped me."

Halisi squeezes Ilyna's shoulder, her expression somewhere between a smile and a frown as she studies the asari, her silver eyes darting from feature to feature on her face. Her left hand remains atop Ilyna's by their knees. "Me? Hey... you've had far more important things to worry about than me. Your sister. Li." She shakes her head slightly. "I've helped because I wanted to. Because I admire what you're doing, and...

because I don't think it's fair for you to have to do it all alone..."

Ilyna frowns, at a loss of words at first. "I... I suppose," she says with almost no conviction. "I still feel bad about it, though." She takes the tiniest sip from her glass before putting it back on the table, using that small moment to think. Impulses and feelings try to push in conflicting directions. "You're... I mean," she says, shifting ever so slightly closer to her as she tries to gather her thoughts without

much success. "I just can't thank you enough."

Halisi 's gaze follows her hand as she returns the glass to the table. As Ilyna shifts a little closer she looks down briefly, a brief, quiet chuckle with a trace of nervousness to it escaping her. "I, uhm..." Her gaze darts up to the asari's face, and then her shoulder as her thumb brushes across the black fabric. She mirror's Ilyna's gesture, moving just a little closer. "Really, it's-... don't worry about it. I'm... just

glad I can help." Another brief flash of a smile as she meets Ilyna's gaze.

Ilyna raises her brows slightly at the doctor's nervous chuckle, but she doesn't break eye-contact. No words escape her as she studies her face, trying her best to read her. The asari is woefully out of her element, after all. She's not a stranger to contact, a lot has changed there over the last few years, but the context differed. It wouldn't be the same as leaning on Jason, or a hug. Ilyna breaks eye-contact by

closing her eyes and she tilts her head slightly forward and to the right. She opens her mouth, but she fails to articulate her thoughts and instead closes it again without saying anything.

Halisi furrows her eyebrows a little, noticing Ilyna's discomfort. She pulls back slightly, tilting her head to try and get a better look at her expression. "Is-... is everything okay? I-..." She winces faintly, her right hand curling into a ball and withdrawing to hover just above Ilyna's shoulder. "What's wrong?"

Ilyna gives a small shake of her head, still looking away. "It's... just... it... doesn't feel right for me to...," she replies in a sad murmur. "I'm sorry." She doesn't move beyond that, not even to wipe the tears that keep rolling down her cheeks. Ilyna coudln't be completely honest, the consequences of that was completely unpredictable and everything could come crashing down.

Halisi blinks, a awkward expression briefly crossing her face as she pulls back a little, nodding. "I-... of course. I m-... I'm sorry, I didn't-..." she sighs, looking Ilyna over. The tears are causing more than a little confusion on her end, and she seems uncertain how to react. "I'm so sorry if-... I did not mean to make you uncomfortable, I was just-..." Her frown deepens a little, and once again tries to seek Ilyna's

gaze, squeezing her hand lightly. "Hey, it's okay..."

Ilyna wipes her tears with her free hand while she listens to her. "It's... not your fault, Halisi," she mutters. "You're a wonderful person, I... I don't want to... to... to..." she shakes her head and sighs, looking up at her. "It's okay," she says, though the tear starting down her cheek implies otherwise.

Halisi leans back slightly, her frown softening. She pulls both her hands back into her lap. "Talk to me." she says with a small shrug. "I'm... your friend, aren't I?" A smile briefly tugs at her lips as she studies Ilyna, trying to understand. She hesitates slightly before adding: "I-... I can leave, if-..."

Ilyna sits completely still while Halisi talks, but the last question evokes a quick shake of her head. "No, please... don't," she says. "I... I just.... I'll... talk about this some other day... when I can...," the asari appears incredibly flustered before she gives up and instead ends with, "when I'm not such a mess." She's only pushing the problem ahead, but that'll have to do for now as to not ruin this already

somber evening.

Halisi nods slightly, still not fully understanding the source of Ilyna's discomfort, but not wanting to push the issues. "How about we talk about something else?" she says, putting on a small smile and reaching for her glass, taking a sip. "The wedding's coming up. It'll be nice to... celebrate something, for once. I haven't been to a wedding in ages ."

Ilyna lets out the quietest relieved sigh as the topic changes and also reaches for her wine glass. She takes a sip while she calms down somewhat. "They're going to be a great family," she says, a small smile showing up, though her voice is still marred by the previous topic. "I haven't attended a human wedding before, so that'll be interesting too." She looks off thoughtfully for a second before adding, "I can't

recall ever asking if he needed help with it, I'm sure there's much to do."

Halisi shifts a little in her seat, cradling the glass of wine in her hands. "Last I spoke to Linda they were in the middle of preparations. I understand guests are coming from offworld. Should be quite the spectacle." She smirks slightly. "As for human weddings? They're very varied. There's usually an exchange of rings, and vows."

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